Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Introducing new SusChem Chair: Dr. Markus Steilemann

The European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) Board has announced that Dr. Markus Steilemann is its new Chair, succeeding Dr. Klaus Sommer who served six years in this position.


Dr. Steilemann (above), who will lead the Board in managing SusChem’s strategy and activities, brings valuable expertise in innovation and management. He is the Chief Commercial Officer of material producer Covestro and - since 2015 - a member of the Covestro Board of Management. His responsibilities encompass all commercial functions, including innovation and the company’s three segments: Polyurethanes, Polycarbonates and Coatings, Adhesives and Specialties.

Dr. Steilemann holds a PhD in Chemistry and started his career at the Bayer Group, where he moved to various management positions at the former Bayer MaterialScience, which has become Covestro in 2015.

SusChem beyond 2020
“I am honoured to take the leadership of SusChem at a time when new strategies in the European research and innovation policy, missions and funding beyond 2020 are being designed,” Dr. Steilemann said, adding that SusChem is already working together with the European Commission on the preparation of the next EU Framework Programme after Horizon 2020.

“The role of the chemical industry should feature prominently in it as the crucial link between scientific breakthroughs and societal challenges for delivering impact. The disruptive technologies needed to transform our economy and society towards a more sustainable future will be enabled through chemistry,” Dr. Steilemann underlined.

A driving force for KETs
SusChem is a driving force behind the EU strategy for Key Enabling Technologies. Under Dr. Sommer’s leadership its strategy was refocused and its role for accelerating innovation reinforced. 

SusChem now includes 14 national technology platforms, connecting national and regional sustainable chemistry initiatives and developing synergies with EU policy and funding schemes. 

Dr. Sommer (pictured right) played a decisive role in the discussions, initiated by SusChem, which lead to the establishment of the SPIRE Public-Private Partnership in the process industries and of which he was also Chair of the Board of Management.

2017 LRI Innovative Science Award Ceremony and Workshop on Making Sense of ‘Omics’

The winner of the prestigious LRI Innovative Science Award, worth €100,000, will be announced at the opening gala dinner of the 19th annual Cefic Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) workshop on November 15-16 in Brussels. The topic of the main workshop is “Making Sense of Omics”. 


Cefic’s LRI Innovative Science Award is Europe’s biggest prize for early career life scientists. It finances outstanding research contributions developing novel approaches for assessing the potential impact of chemicals on human health and the environment.

The research undertaken by the LRI programme complements that done by SusChem with  focus on technology innovation and chemical safety/omics for regulatory applications.

Participants attending the 19th Annual Workshop have the opportunity to gain insights into the LRI programme and its future direction.


Omics: global perpectives
This year’s workshop theme is “Making Sense of Omics”. A dedicated session will discuss the regulatory applications of omics from a European and US perspective.  ‘Omics’ describes a wide portfolio of biology research areas including genomics, proteomics and  or metabolomics.

The event showcases the results from LRI Programme projects and their impact on pressing issues around the technical aspects of chemicals policy. Chemicals-related topics to be examined at the workshop by leading scientists involved in policy making in Europe, Canada and the USA include:
  • Biodegradation
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Carcinogenicity
  • Inhalation nanotoxicology
Key speakers
Key speakers of interest to the media include:
  • Dr Albert Piersma - professor in reproductive toxicology at Utrecht University and Senior Scientist at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, member of the Dutch Health Council and of advisory committees for the EU, OECD and WHO
  • Dr Frank Gobas – environmental toxicologist at Simon Foster University, Canada and a member of scientific expert groups and advisory boards for the UN, the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the Canadian government
  • Dr Damian Helbing – assistant professor at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, USA
More information and registration
The LRI workshop takes place at two venues with the opening gala dinner and awards ceremony at Le Plaza Hotel in Brussels on the evening of 15 November with the workshop taking place at The Square conference facility in central Brussels on 16 November.

The full programme for the workshop is available here and you can register via this link. Participation is free.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

SusChem Switzerland welcomes VIO Chemicals

SusChem Switzerland, SusChem’s Swiss National Technology Platform (NTP), has recently welcomed a new member: VIO Chemicals. As a member of the NTP, VIO Chemicals joins major players in the Swiss Chemical and Life Sciences sector, including INEOS, Lonza, CimArk, ETH Zurich and the Swiss Chemical Society (SCS).

In joining SusChem Switzerland, VIO Chemicals aspires to promote the national chemical industry’s priorities in the European policy agenda, become an integrated member of a European collaborative network of knowledge and competence, and contribute to a dynamic innovation and industrial eco-system as part of the Europe 2020 strategy for an inclusive European economy.

Welcoming VIO Chemicals, Eric Plan, Secretary-General of SusChem Switzerland said:
“SusChem Switzerland is aimed at companies involved in life sciences, particularly chemistry, who want to improve their industrial processes and/or develop their collaboration with other players. With VIO Chemicals, we are happy to welcome a new SME in the SusChem family. The active participation of VIO Chemicals will reinforce our activities and missions in 'Shaping Sustainable Solutions Together'”
VIO Chemicals shares SusChem Switzerland’s vision for a robust and sustainable Swiss chemical industry. According to a recent analysis chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech sectors account for 41% of total national exports. The Swiss growth strategy is largely driven by an emphasis on constant innovation and internationalism. By joining SusChem Switzerland, VIO Chemicals declares its openness to share its expertise and form synergies with national and European stakeholders to promote the use of sustainable chemistry, and joins the debate about the role of the chemical industry as a solutions provider to global societal challenges.

For more information on SusChem Switzerland, please visit the SusChem Switzerland website.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Hurry, hurry for SuperBIO support services

The SuperBIO Horizon 2020 project is getting close to reaching its goal of developing 30 cross-border, cross-sectorial value chains in the biobased economy. The initiative has a target to develop 30 new disruptive biobased value chains together with EU SMEs through provision of 10 different accessible professional innovation services to SMEs at affordable prices.

Established in 2016, SuperBIO has been such a success that, only twelve months into the project, 20 value chains have already been developed. The project expects to reach its goal before the end of the year! New applicants should therefore hurry up to become one of the 10 new value chains that remain to be developed and supported by SuperBIO.

The newly established value chains in SuperBIO are very diverse and include biogas production, food, horticultural and agricultural waste valorisation, bioplastics production, and production of high-value compounds such as crop-protection products, fragrances or food additives.

SuperBIO is a truly Europe-wide project, attracting SMEs from Belgium, Finland, France, Israel, Italy, Portugal, the UK, Spain, The Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.

You can read some case studies from the project here.

Innovation services
SMEs participating in the value chains can each receive innovation services to a value of €60 000, with 75% of the support funded through the project. The 20 developed value chains are now gaining more insight into feedstock and market information, life-cycle analysis (LCA), techno-economics, regulatory barriers, business planning and access to investors, subsidy strategy, intellectual property (IP) protection, and proof-of-concept or scale-up issues. With its innovation support services, SuperBIO fills a tangible need for EU bioeconomy SMEs and gives them a head start to get closer to their markets.

SuperBIO can only support a limited number of SMEs, but the project still welcomes applications for new value chains from industrial stakeholders. Hurry up and take advantage of this exclusive opportunity to get a boost for your biobased business.

Get in touch with the SuperBIO consortium that consists of 10 expert organisations, all leaders in the biobased economy. SMEs can apply for SuperBIO services via their website.

Learn more about the project in the 'SuperBIO project in two minutes' video.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

BIOKET event to focus on the Bioeconomy emerging KETs


On 6 to 8 March 2018, the IAR - the French Bioeconomy Cluster - is organising BIOKET, the global conference dedicated to the Bioeconomy’s Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). The event will focus on innovative biobased solutions and processes and emphasise innovation in processes for biomass conversion using emerging technologies, minimising waste production and optimising economics. BIOKET will take place in Strasbourg at the Convention Exhibition Centre close to the city centre.

Biomass is a wonderful resource that can be transformed into chemicals, biobased materials, food and feed ingredients or energy. However, adaptation and optimisation of transformation processes and technologies remains a real challenge to fully valorise all biomass fractions in a true circular economy approach.

In the context of the circular economy, the need for an optimal valorisation of renewable resources, and of Industry 4.0 considerations BIOKET will be an excellent opportunity for all experts to discuss and share their experiences with emerging and key enabling technologies for the bioeconomy.

Inspiring programme
An inspiring and targeted conference programme has been developed, which will tackle topics such as advanced and innovative biomass pre-treatment; technologies for biomass conversion and functionalization; extraction, separation and purification of biomass; process modelling and analytical methods and tools; innovative tools; design of bioprocesses, advanced fermentation.

You can download the draft programme here. BIOKET’s main programme topics include:

  • Advanced and innovative biomass pre-treatment – Physical and thermochemical pre-treatment – Densification – Fractionation
  • Technologies for biomass conversion and functionalization
  • Extraction, separation and purification of biomass
  • Process modelling and analytical methods and tools - in situ characterization techniques
  • Innovative tools: Enzymatic and metabolic engineering, synthetic biology and bio-nanotechnology
  • Design of bioprocesses and advanced fermentation
In addition, a vast area of 1 500 square metres will host the BIOKET exhibition area and there will be ample opportunity for networking and finding new biobased business leads.

The BIOKET conference itself takes place on 7 and 8 March with a BBI and Bioeconomy Horizon 2020 project information and Brokerage pre-event scheduled for Tuesday 6 March.

Registration for the conference opens on 3 September, but you can find more information on the BIOKET website, where you can also subscribe to the BIOKET newsletter to receive updates on the event.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Cefic - LRI 2017 programme call closes 31 August!

The Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) programme of the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) is now accepting grant applications, but you will need to be quick as the deadline for applications is 31 August 2017.

The Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) programme is a major voluntary initiative of the European chemical industry to support the long-term sustainability of its sector and European society. The programme funds work to identify the hazards posed by chemicals and improve the methods available for assessing the associated risks.

The LRI sponsors high-quality research of a standard publishable in a reputable peer-reviewed journal, and seeks to provide sound scientific advice on which industry and regulatory bodies can draw-on to respond quickly and accurately to the public’s concerns.

2017 call
The 2017 call covers research in the following areas:

  • Bioaccumulation potential determination (ECO41)
  • Fate-ecotoxicity testing and risk assessment (ECO42)
  • Sediment toxicity testing refinement (ECO43)
  • Toxicokinetics mammalian modelling (ECO44)
  • Implementing an ecosystem services-based approach to chemical risk assessment: A proof of concept study (ECO45)
  • Improvement of the environmental hazard and risk assessment of cationic polymers (ECO46)
  • Assessment of inhalation and dermal exposure in industrial/professional use (B20)Interpretation of ‘omics (molecular-level interactions data):
  • Development of omics data analysis (C4)
  • Understanding normal adaptation vs pathology and gene expression time dependence (C5)
  • Biological omics read-across (C6)

Further information on project specifications, budget details and application forms can be found on the Cefic-LRI website at:

Only proposals that fit the project specifications and are submitted via the official LRI application form will be considered for funding. For further details, please contact Dr. Bruno Hubesch, LRI Programme Consultant, or the LRI Secretariat via email.

The deadline for receipt of completed applications is 31 August 2017.

A mini-guide to the Cefic-LRI funding and application process can be downloaded here and results from a selection of completed Cefic-LRI projects can be found here.

About Cefic-LRI
The Cefic-LRI programme is all about a responsible approach to assessing the long-term impacts of chemicals.

Public awareness of the potential impact of human activity and man-made substances on the environment and on health is something the chemical industry has long taken seriously. As early as 1996, the need to address societal concerns and help public understanding of the long-term impacts led to the establishment of the Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) programme in the US. Cefic-LRI manages the LRI programme in Europe.

The LRI’s aim is to respond to public and stakeholder concerns through rigorous scientific investigation. In the last 17 years it has become a unique source of knowledge and tools, providing a validated infrastructure of scientific advice available to both the industry and regulatory bodies. In this way, the LRI helps to provide timely and accurate information in response to the public’s questions and concerns.

To help address some of European public health strategy priorities, LRI conducts peer-reviewed transparent research to:
-Improve risk assessment of chemicals and monitor the effects of chemicals on health;
-Understand the environmental factors in human health;
-Establish endocrine disruption references;
-Coordinate research, data and activities at a European level.

LRI also addresses many of the environmental objectives of the EU, including:
-Linking environmental factors to health effects;
-Understanding and reducing chemical risks to environment;
-Improving animal testing in risk assessment.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Can the EU Chemical Industry go Carbon Neutral by 2050?

The chemical industry’s ambition is to play a leading role in the transformation of the European economy to a sustainable low-carbon and circular economy by creating innovative climate and energy friendly solutions, both for its own processes and for many other industries through chemical products. A new report 'Low carbon energy and feedstock for the European chemical industry' from SusChem founding partners Dechema and released via the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) explores how the chemical industry can become carbon neutral by 2050. 

The Dechema study analyses the technological options available for the chemical industry and outlines the conditions necessary to facilitate the transition of the European chemical industry to carbon neutrality.

As well as giving a first full overview of all available technologies for the main chemical production processes, it describes what is needed to refurbish the industrial base we know today in Europe, in a world of shale gas and low oil prices:
  • Abundant low-carbon electricity in much larger volumes and at competitive prices;
  • Availability of alternative feedstocks (e.g. bio-based raw materials, CO2 or industrial waste gases).
  • An enabling fiscal structure to modernise ageing production facilities and equipment or build new plants;
  • Government or public-private support to scale-up technologies and share investment risk for those technologies that are first of a kind or high risk
  • Innovation and research into new chemical technologies that help overcome these challenges.
  • Enabling business models to enhance cross-sectoral collaboration to find sustainable ways to re-use CO2
Role for SusChem and SPIRE
The report concludes that, in order to achieve the EU’s 2050 objectives, an ambitious research and innovation programme will be essential to improve the potential of required advanced technologies, and public-private-partnership efforts will be critical to enable fast deployment and risk sharing for the investments needed. 

In addition, industrial symbiosis opportunities and sustainable materials recycling options should be further explored in order to improve energy and resource efficiency beyond sectorial boundaries. 

Clearly these areas where SusChem and SPIRE are currently working hard to advance sustainable chemistry and sustainable process industry technologies.

Energy intensive
The chemical industry has already halved its energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, but producing chemicals remains one of the most energy intensive industrial processes. Making the sector carbon neutral while retaining its competitiveness in a full circular economy in Europe is a significant challenge, which cannot be solved by the industry on its own.

In an interview with Politico Energy Marco Mensink, Cefic Director General, said that the fact that the industry is looking at how to cut carbon emissions shows that it’s embracing the need for change, “I think we have always taken the position that we are very energy-intensive and that there are huge challenges to become energy neutral,” he said. “But this is a different stance.” Why? Because the attitude of the sector is changing, because the Paris climate agreement has become a reality, and because time is ticking, he added.

The main findings of the report are that the implementation of the technologies investigated in the study would allow for a very significant reduction of CO2 emissions in 2050 (up to 210 Mt annually under the maximum scenario). And including the production and use of fuels related to the pathways considered in the study, the additional CO2 abatement potential in 2050 exceeds the chemical sector’s current emissions even under the intermediate scenario.

Commenting on the report, Marco Mensink said: “Many promising low-carbon technologies are available at a relatively advanced stage of development. The industry will need to find the way to overcome the investment, raw material and energy challenges for them to be implemented on a large scale in Europe.” 

Kurt Wagemann, Executive Director of DECHEMA added: “The implementation of the technologies investigated in this study would allow for a very significant reduction of CO2 emissions of the chemical industry by 2050 even under the least ambitious scenario.”

However, such a transition to carbon neutrality will entail huge challenges for the European chemical industry including availability of low carbon energy, availability of alternative feedstock, investments in new assets that far exceed the typical level of investments in the recent years, uncompetitive production costs. 

The report
The report Low carbon energy and feedstock for the European chemical industry looks into technology options and pathway scenarios to ensure a low-carbon, yet competitive European chemical industry by 2050. The study focuses on the main chemical building blocks used in upstream large volume production processes (ammonia, methanol, ethylene, propylene, chlorine and the aromatics benzene, toluene and xylene), which represent about two-thirds of all GHG emissions in the chemical sector.